"Then would you accompany me to the depth of hell?" - Index
"When magic and science crosses path, what will happen?" is how I would have liked to start this review. However the answer to that would have simply be "nothing" since, although both sides exists in the same place, there were hardly any interaction between them. So instead, I will begin by asking Index what she meant by accompanying her to the depth of hell. She was hardly present for half the show and during the rare occasions when she is in an episode, she gets sidelined and become a minor character with absolutely no impact to the story (beside biting Touma on the head).
So what happened to those 103,000 magical texts? With the exception of the first few episodes and the last episode or two, where Index as a character actually matters to the plot, there is practically zero reference to the 103,000 magical texts for 80% of the show. Granted the production studio (J.C. Staff) wanted to follow the novel as closely as possible (and they did a very good job at it), it is understandable for the abrupt ending to the story thus far. But it still makes no sense for the story’s centerpiece to be dangling here and there with no sense of purpose in the various story arcs.
If one were to ignore the problems mentioned above, then the overall production quality of Toaru Majutsu no Index is actually quite good. Decent animation from J.C. Staff (though sometimes the distant shots seem lacking in detail) plus a great cast of seiyu make this anime a pleasant watch to those who don’t really mind a poor storyline. Don’t get me wrong though, the mini arcs throughout the show which introduces and help create character developments are great in themselves. However, once the dust settles, it always makes me wonder what happen to the story that was suppose to center around Index.
Character-wise, most were introduced to compliment the particular story arc (with the exception of the main protagonists). Afterward, they will tend to “fade” to the back sometimes making a few seconds appearance here and there with no significance. In terms of character development, not much observable changes occurred for the male protagonist and Index which can be attributed to the faithful following of the novel (since there wasn’t that much matter to talk about at the time of the anime production). On the other hand the co-heroine/main protagonist, Mikoto, of the Railgun series (a spinoff of Toaru Majutsu no Index) did show considerable character growth which makes her shine like a bright star among the group of relatively static characters.
Those familiar with Shana will instantly ring a bell in their head as they watch the first OP of this series. If the OP does not make you go "OMG, this sounds similar to Shana’s OP!", then perhaps watching the daily interaction between Index and Touma will help ring some bells. To be more precise, one can even replace Index with Shana and voila, you have yourself Shakugan no Shana III. The point I am trying to make here is the similarities between the two anime.
1. From the same production company.
2. At least one of their OP theme is sang by the same singer (Kawada Mami).
3. Shana = Index, Yuji = Touma.
So what am I trying to say here? It means that if you enjoy watching Shakugan no Shana, feel free to give this anime a try. The magician (magic) vs esper (science) theme advertised by Toaru Majutsu no Index does have its selling points, but I just think it desperately need a sequel to really link the various bits and pieces together. I enjoyed the mini arcs (whether they are filler or not), those irrelevant mini stories were very entertaining and they help keep my mind off Index. But once I start thinking deeper into the character ties and relationships, there is just something missing about the purpose of Index. Perhaps a hopeful sequel will fill in the missing puzzles, but as things stand right now the story really hurts the show.